The revered Oba of Benin has waded into the fight against human trafficking that is plaguing Nigeria, especially his kingdom.

On Friday, Oba Ewuare II in a ceremony revoked all curses that voodoo priests placed on trafficked victims.

You may have heard that before people are trafficked, they are made to undergo some rituals where curses are placed on them if they fail to meet certain terms.

This black magic rituals, known as “juju”, then leave victims fearing their relatives will fall ill or die if they disobey their traffickers.

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Nigeria’s anti-trafficking agency has welcomed Oba Ewuare’s move saying it should sharply reduce the number of people being trafficked to Europe and improve the chances of prosecuting traffickers.

“This is a very strong weapon to support anti-trafficking ... because our belief system is strongly rooted in traditional worship,” Arinze Orakwue of the anti-trafficking agency NAPTIP said on Monday.

“This belief in juju has been a strong impediment to our prosecution. You can’t prosecute when nobody comes forward to say this person did this to me,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.

“(The Oba) first released all those bound by juju ... the juju has been neutralised,” David Edebiri, the second-highest ranking chief in the Oba’s cabinet, also told the Thomson Reuters Foundation via phone.

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“Those who take money from people to help them to Europe without passing through immigration ... anybody who does that will have a curse on his head,” said Edebiri, who was at the palace with other Benin chiefs when the Oba issued his decree.

According to Edebiri, the Oba also banned juju priests from involvement in any ritual to aid immigration to any part of the world, and invoked curses on those who did.

He said the Oba had become involved after repeated bad press in the international media.

"We saw our place being portrayed in the international media as a den of illicit activity ... There is going to be a drastic reduction."

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